raising compassion.

Where the sun burns brightest the shadow lies deepest.*

Even a spiritually en-brightened person, having realised so much, remains HumanBeing, inseparable from their shadow, and may come unstuck, may lose balance, toppling from a height of great and general estimation.
Crash! Down!
Disappointment, dismay, disdain falls then… from us to them, as to themselves upon themselves. There are many examples.

Yet even in this, in the awful moment and ensuing days, it may be that their dis-grace works as an agent of exegesis, of understanding, in revealing to us as if from some ancestral text, a gem-like truth of hard and human wisdom – hard to teach, harder still to learn – which is:
That if we are to come to compassion, as we are bid, to compassionate thought and response, we must first let fail and relinquish our fiery speed to judgement, to our being forever judgemental.

Somewhere, and it is far deep-down in us, we know it must be a relief to let this go, to snuff it out, and finally so.

Compassion, which brings to the surface the action of our heart in just-acceptance, cannot discriminate, that is not its function; its function is to tender, toward kindness, toward beneficence, toward awakening; with comfort to restore, to sustain, to gather to its embrace, to beat as mercy, ever-even ever-even, limitless and gentle under moonlight.


Be careful in too closely following, in becoming disciple, in raising-up one above others, therefore. For as much as we are made glad in the words, the presence and company of an enlightened spirit, it is perhaps best to let them lead us – but to a point; to open the path – but to a view. Let that be enough. With such advantage we must continue on, to be with ourselves, singly, quietly, sincerely, yet bearing the gift-matter of their better-guidance with us, as and where we go. Then, and again just maybe, we may find that by our – howsoever modest – practise in awareness, by the resolve and readiness of our heart, that we in turn have opened a way, a door, a path, not only to our truer selves but for others also, for and to themselves.
Indeed, how else should the nature of compassion make succession and endure?

At the last – and this must remain for now unknowable – surely it is only a truly enlightened Mind, as scarce as the rarest diamond, that casts no flaw of shadow at all.



*Only a little amended, from the pen of mighty Goethe.
On the images. Limestone relief carving of a monk –
Northern Wei dynasty C6thCE/Longmen caves/Henan province.
(Original gallery photography ©Eskenazi)
Monk Hotei by Fukai Ekun (Japan) 1650 –
scroll/ink on paper.
In the inscription verse Hotei calls himself ‘an
old traveller idling along the way’. Yet he is much beloved,
especially by village children who follow him with
waving flags and to whom he dispenses gifts from the
ever-abundant sack thrown across his shoulder.
He is that rare thing: an enlightened holy rogue.

©November 2020